A hostile entity sworn to your destruction persists in shelling you with ever more—and ever more powerful—rockets and missiles.
The doctrine of proportionality does not require some sort of a balance between Israel and Hamas dead, or some equivalence between the deeds of Hamas and those of the Israel government.
Rather, in the context of international humanitarian law, there must be proportionality between what the Israel government actually does and what is reasonably required to prevent the firing of Hamas rockets at Israel civilians and soldiers.
Specifically, if the Israel government would be reasonably able to prevent the firing of those Hamas rockets via measures that fall well short of using nuclear weapons to obliterate Gaza, then the Israel government is legally obliged to use those less drastic means that are likely to be kinder to the civilians in Gaza.
However, international law certainly does not require the Israel government to sit back and accept the firing of rockets at Israel civilians and soldiers, just because measures to prevent that firing would likely result in some collateral civilian injury and death in Gaza. And here the reasoning is obvious: The Israel government has to choose between (A) some Israel deaths (civilian and military) resulting from Hamas missiles hitting Israel; and (B) some Hamas deaths (civilian and military) from Israel preventive measures. In this context, the Israel government has to opt for (B) to prevent (A). Any other decision would irrationally privilege the lives of Muslim Arabs in Gaza over those of civilians and soldiers in Israel.
And here the ancient rabbis would probably have agreed, because morally it is better for the wicked to die than for the innocent to perish.
As the legal scholars would say, duh!
But I’m still troubled. If Israel is the victim of these random and immoral attacks, why shouldn’t it employ any method it sees fit to protect its innocent civilians? Because the innocent of Gaza will die?
At least the author calls into question the very idea:
The civilian adult population of Gaza is probably directly or indirectly to some degree morally complicit in the willful aggression of Hamas, which the Muslim Arabs of Gaza clearly supported in the 2006 Palestinian elections, and which they probably continue to back even today. For example, pollsters tell us that Gaza’s adult population specifically endorses the notion that rockets be targeted at Israel civilians, which is a flagrant war crime.
A population elected to power a political party dedicated to the annihilation of a neighboring state. Furthermore, that population has served at the very least as a cover for the attacks (willfully or not), and often as an abetter of them.
And we’re talking about the morals of the victim?
I am aware of no formula that calculates how many innocent victims of terror must die before one “innocent” on the side of terrorism may be put at risk. Given the duration of the conflict so far, given the failures of negotiation and withdrawal, given the eliminationist language of Ham’ass’ founding charter—not least its racism and Jew-vilification distilled from Nazism—why shouldn’t the use of “nuclear weapons to obliterate Gaza” be considered? The USA dropped two on Japan and stopped the war on a dime. The unimaginable destruction and unspeakable horror were different only in degree from what had preceded Fat Man and Little Boy, and from what would have followed. Those two body blows, as horrific as they were to endure and disturbing as they are to recall, put an end to Imperial Japan. With American help, Japan recovered and rebuilt to become the economic powerhouse and peaceful nation it is today. (Even after a decade-plus long slump, Japan has the 3rd largest GDP, after America and China.)
Let me fire the first Qassam in the discussion. The green and pleasant land of Gaza comprises 141 square miles of prime Mediterranean beachfront property. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima destroyed 4.7 square miles of the city. You do the math. If Israel had nuclear weapons, it would need 30 of them to “obliterate” Gaza. But that hardly seems necessary. If mighty Japan fell after two mushroom clouds, surely one glowing shitake would do the trick in Gaza. Especially if it were strategically placed over Ham’ass HQ.
I’m a monster? I should be ashamed of myself for making light of nuclear annihilation?
I didn’t bring it up, some moralist did. I’m just pursuing the argument. And I’ve never bombed anyone (save rigging a paper cup of water above an ajar door). But the issue becomes a little more personal and less theoretical when it’s your kids on the line. The only thing that separates Ham’ass from Adam Lanza, the butcher of Newtown, is aim and proximity. Both fired on schoolchildren, both had the same intent. What would you have done to stop Lanza? What would you forbid Israel to stop Ham’ass?
The floor is yours.
Oh yeah, Happy Holidays!